Tourist in Grenoble

Today Bill went to work, Kaitlyn returned to school so I got to play tourist for the day! (notice, not tour guide)

                    Since Annabella doesn’t want to see snow (she left Boston to escape it) and doesn’t want to ride the bubbles, that made tourism in Grenoble something of a challenge. She likes factory tours and museums. Vito goes along with those votes.

                    We started by going to the distillery tour for Chartreuse, the nasty green liquor made by monks here in Grenoble. Some of it was interesting, like the fact that there are two monks who work in the facility and they are the only ones allowed in several areas . But if only two people in the world get to go into the rooms where the work happens, well, there wasn’t much to see. We didn’t actually see any of the liquor being produced, unless you count staring at the barrels where it ferments seeing the production. The tour includes an incredibly cheezy 3-D movie. I hadn’t thought of it until we were sitting down to watch, but just how does one make a 3-D movie about liquor? It was about the monks building their monestary then inventing the nasty-green-drink. So they showed someone chopping wood with the chips “flying” toward you, junk like that. What do you expect from a free tour? It ended in the tasting room (conveniently located next to the gift shop). Each tour participant gets one free taste of something, so each of us ordered something different. One shot of the green liquor, one of the yellow version (the guide book said it is milder) and one of a walnut liquor. The walnut one was actually ok; surprising since I don’t like walnuts. It didn’t take big sips for us to agree: the yellow Chartreuse packed just as much of a wallop as the green. Both were drinks one makes faces while consuming. But it was free, so Vito finished it off for us. Hate to let it go to waste. No one wants to leave empty handed, so Annabella bought some Chartreuse filled chocolates. Amazingly, that was not disgusting!

                    Before moving on, I plugged in my cell phone (of course, battery was dead) to call and make dinner reservations. When I hung up Annabella said “You did well. But you just made reservations at seven noon o’clock.” I love my mastery of the language.

                    Our next tourist trap was Vizille and the Museum of the French Revolution. I’d been told that Vizille is where the revolution “started.” To avoid lots of driving back and forth we agreed to just take our chances on a restaurant near the museum.

                    That was when I learned it isn’t just time I have a problem with in French. Annabella did most of the ordering for us… I did ok with mine until I got to the salad. Tomato and mozzarella. I think the guy was just being rude claiming he couldn’t understand me because I wasn’t saying the words “just right.” Whatever. I don’t love tomatoes but I’ll eat a couple as an excuse for a plate of fresh mozzarella slices. Ordering complete, Annabella got up to go to the bathroom. Naturally, that was when the waiter came back to the table to ask us a question. Come to think of it, he may have been lurking around the corner actually waiting on her to leave. He addressed Vito more than me, which was a bad idea since Vito speaks no French and at least I speak some. We heard the word mozzarella, so we knew he was talking about our entrees. And we heard the word basil. So we said “uh, oui.” Later, when our entrees finally arrived at the table, we found out what he was telling us. They were apparently out of mozzarella. Vito and I each got a giant plate of sliced tomatoes with some vinegar and oil and big leaves of, yes, basil. Annabella is now forbidden to leave the table until our meals have been served. And even then it’s questionable.

                    The main dishes arrived and, as I’d predicted, Annabella and Vito were mystified at what had been set in front of them. They ordered fillet mignon. Which here is usually pork. They don’t believe me. Even after eating it, they say I am wrong. They agree that it wasn’t beef but they insist it wasn’t pork. I was going to ask the waiter, but he already scoffed at my French. Besides, if he’d said “oh it was horse” they’d have never gotten over it.

                    At the museum my French continued to shine. The woman asked my post code and I couldn’t remember how to say 400. I kept saying 40. Which is a much different number. It would be so much easier if the French said 38410 as “three – eight – four – one – zero” instead of “thirty eight – four hundred and ten.” Once past that challenge, I realized I should have asked for the free English audio guide. All the little signs were only in French. I thought they might be in English since the signs on the door (push and pull) were in both languages. We saw some dishes, some sculptures and a lot of paintings. Nothing that appeared to be an actual relic from the war. Maybe one sentence somewhere explaining the significance of Vizille. Nothing that actually taught me a single thing about the French Revolution. Oh, well, c’est la vie.

                    We picked up Kaitlyn from school and drove to the supermarket. They wanted to see it and Annabella wanted to buy some noodles she’d seen in my pantry to show her class. (She is currently a substitute teacher for a French teacher in middle school.) Once we got everything we needed, and argued over whether or not a bottle of Orangina was the drink of choice for their train ride Tuesday, I suggested using the self check out. It’s faster and you can choose English on the computer screen. First, the lady who monitors all the self check outs told us we couldn’t take our cart through. Ok, fine. So we started unloading it (there were only a handful of items) so that I could take the cart around another way. Instead of seeing and appreciating how we quickly responded to her request, she came over to yell at us in English. Well, that just did it for me. Finally, a language I can defend myself in! I yelled back that we were doing just what she’d wanted. Oh, it felt good. But then when Annabella struggled to get the thing to accept her American credit card, the woman sat staring at her screen, offering no help. Annabella finally gave up and stuck in some cash.

                    Dinner out was to be a grown-up event. Kaitlyn went to a friend’s house and I just prayed she went to sleep at a semi-reasonable time. I also prayed that the restaurant had our reservation at my intended time. It did.

                    We chose a restaurant I knew serves a good Gratin Dauphinois, which is fancy scalloped potatoes. I ordered knowing that was the side dish I wanted, so I built my meal around that. I chose scallops for my entree then veal in cream sauce with the potatoes. Annabella of course managed to ask some questions and understand the answers. Vito ignored Bill’s advise not to get the sausage he chose. When it came, I think he was a wee bit sorry. It had, well, bits of things that one normally doesn’t eat. Or normally doesn’t have to actually see and recognize in his sausage. Everyone else enjoyed their meals. And Vito got to eat half of Annabella’s duck; so his evening wasn’t a total loss.

One Response to “Tourist in Grenoble”

  1. Debbie says:

    What are bubbles? (you said annabella did not want to ride the bubbles)

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